The wonderment of it all

Experiencing the solar eclipse on 8/21/17 at Buck Hall Recreation Area, Francis Marion National Forest, McClennanville, South Carolina.  [All photos by JHM, except first one]

Photo credit: Enrique Bravo, Jr. Miami, FL

It was a perfect day. Despite intermittent clouds, we had beautiful weather conditions, lovely people and a total eclipse – the first one visible in mainland US since February, 1979.

USDA Forest Service staff couldn’t have been nicer. “It’s not our event,” said Tammy (on the right). “We’re here to make your day safe and enjoyable. Your tax dollars at work.”

When we arrived at the entrance to the park at 5:00 am, there were already 24 vehicles ahead of us in the queue. We patiently waited.

About an hour later, the main gate opened to alleviate traffic on the street, and the queue moved inside the gate. Shortly after sunrise, still on line, people emerged from their vehicles to stretch their legs.

Around 7:15 am, we were guided into the parking lot where an abundance of U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service staff directed our parking in neat semi-circles.

For the next six hours or so, people – families, elderly, children – picnicked on the lawn, swam and kayaked in the river, played on the grass and hiked on the Palmetto Trail as we waited for the big event.

Even Smokey came out to entertain and inform us about wildfire prevention on public lands. Not to be outranked, the Secretary of USDA visited the park around midday to congratulate his staff on their outstanding work.

Finally, around 2:00 pm, it was time to put on our eclipse protection glasses, set up our cameras, and witness Mother Nature’s work. Over the next hour, all eyes were gazing towards the sky.

At the moment of totality, the glow of dusk invited an eeriness that sobered the gaiety and heightened awareness of the wonderment of it all. There were oohs and aahs; a tear here and there and overall awe.

As the final traces of the eclipse, birds flew over in salute; and at the end of the day in a nearby location we were gifted with a full rainbow, double on one end (my camera didn’t capture it all).

As we bade the kind workers and our new friends adieu, we hope we’ll meet again in another park, at another event, somewhere. What a glorious end to an unusual day.

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